Yet again I’m assigned an American sport game. This time however, it’s for a sport that I actually do enjoy watching, American Football! I do enjoy staying up until 4am in the morning to watch the American Football Superbowl once a year, and as in the case of last year, get a glimpse of Ms Jackson’s nipple. Sadly, EA haven’t implemented any half time shenanigans that would make this game an 18 certificate, but at least they’ve made what can be safely called a good game.

Madden NFL has been the most prolific American Football game to date, producing an exciting and graphically impressive game right back to the Mega Drive years! Madden 06 hasn’t broken the EA tradition in terms of graphics and presentation, but it lacks something — originality. We’ve seen it all before, and with very little additions to previous Madden titles, this game sadly doesn’t deliver in all areas.

Lets give Madden credit where it’s due, this game is good. The gameplay is solid; there are heaps and heaps of licensed teams, players and playbooks to keep you going for hours, and the presentation is top notch. The menu system is bland compared to NBA 06, it would have been nice to see some sort of training idea like the NBA team had, but the game itself delivers the perfect atmosphere for an NFL game.

One thing that EA have really hit the nail on the head with is the sound. The crowd react to every tackle, every play and every sack. The commentator is, as always, top draw. He sounds like he’s speaking through a keyhole, which is slightly annoying, but I’m told that’s what it sounds like in real life. The commentator himself is programmed superbly; he reacts wonderfully to every play, and is exactly what you would expect from an EA game these days.

Another major leap for Madden 06 is the graphics. As you would expect, the 360’s power is definitely being used, with amazing textures on the crowd, stadiums, pitches and players themselves. On a high-definition TV, with surround sound stereo, this game is absolutely mind-blowing. Not only do you hear the amazing reactions of the crowd, the humorous taunts of the players and the exciting commentator, but you get a visually stunning looking game. Sometimes you do have to check to make sure you’re not actually watching the Superbowl on your TV via Sky.

American Football is not Rugby for women. Oh no, quite the contrary. The guys wear so much padding because if they didn’t, they’d probably all be dead! In real American Football, the tackles come in ALOT harder than Rugby tackles, and even with padding, the players still get injuries. Again, EA have really captured the essence of this. Whenever you bring down a player, you cringe at the power and pray that your player hasn’t busted a rib of bruised an elbow.

Let’s jump back for a second to what is not so good about Madden, and that’s the lack of originality. The only new feature I can actually notice is the line of sight for the Quarter back. If you’re going for a throw play, you have to use the right analogue stick to point your Quarterback’s head in the right direction before you throw. Obviously if you’re QB is very good, his line of sight will be a lot wider than that of a bad QB. Sadly though, that seems to be the end of the gameplay features. Everything else has been seen before, and in some cases, things have been taken out! A major part of American football is the fact that you can argue a referees decision. It’s always been in Madden, but for some very odd reason, it isn’t available anymore. Nor is training. It’s a shame that they had to cut corners like that, because those little touches make a game so much better.

Live on Madden however is solid. In all honesty, it’s the first EA title I’ve played on Live that hasn’t dropped in frame rates. As always, you get the chance to play ranked or non-ranked matches against friends and foes. The game is pretty much identical online, bar the franchise feature obviously.

All-in-all Madden is a solid game, with some fantastic presentation, great graphics and superb sound. A few cut corners make the game less enjoyable than if could have been, but there is no doubt that this game is by far the best American Football game around and if you enjoy the sport, it is a must have 360 title.

Russ Clow

Russ Clow not only nearly shares his name with one of the best Gladiators around, but he also has a bundle of experience under his belt. Since a very young age he's been playing video games, and has been working in the video game industry for most of his working career. Russ is a secret Sony Fanboy, although he tries hard to hide it so as to keep his position as Editor-in-Chief. When he's not playing games, Russ likes to play football with the "lads".

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